One Million Unsung Heroes: Secret Change Leaders of the NHS

Posted on Wednesday 18th June 2014

by Merv Conroy, Senior Fellow at the Health Services Management Centre, University of Birmingham

Mervyn ConroyAt the NHS Confederation earlier this month, undoubtedly there were some elite speakers: Andy Burnham, Jeremy Hunt, Norman Lamb, Simon Stevens. They had some ‘big ticket’ agendas including co-commissioning, integration, place, patient voice, big data and finance all aimed at doing more for less to a higher standard. They were interesting and in some cases inspiring variations on themes of leadership and change in the search for the answers to how we improve care and secure a sustainable NHS. I can recommend the video summaries at http://conference.nhsconfed.org/watch-again

After I had listened to the last speech I went back to the HSMC stand and found Evelina, Sarah and Tracey (HSMC support staff) all working away. I started to think about what made the conference tick because it functioned extremely well and I and many people I spoke to had a highly rewarding experience. I concluded it was, for the main part, down to the Evelinas, Sarahs and Traceys of the conference, the unsung heroes, who did so much behind the scenes to keep everything together. I think the NHS is the same. It is the unsung heroes, the frontline and backroom staff, who significantly influence patient experience and will sustain the future of the NHS. The NHS has given some recognition to its unsung heroes by setting up an award scheme. I tried to access the central website www.nhsheroes.co.uk but it is no longer available. In the ‘defining moment’ era, has the NHS left behind its lifeblood? Not quite- internet traffic indicates that many local trusts are still doing much to support the award. One of the quotes I found was from the Chair of Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Sir Mike Aaronson: 

 

‘…those of us who work in the NHS know that it is full of heroes who do a fantastic job, over and above what they are paid for. They do so because they care and have professional pride in what they do’

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